Vision for Tucson: Entrepreneurs Power New Economy

Last night at the University of Arizona’s Eller College, a group of community and business leaders gathered to celebrate a new in-depth report on the future of Tucson’s economy.

The Entrepreneurial Economy for Tucson Task Force was formed in 2009 and spent the next two years interviewing top local entrepreneurs and studying the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in the Tucson region.

The group’s findings and recommendations are published in the latest issue of Biz Tucson magazine. Their “Vision for the Future” details how Tucson can develop into a world-class city and create prosperity and high-wage jobs in the region. Marshall Vest, director of the UofA’s Economic and Business Research Center, calls the report “the best vision statement/ assessment I’ve seen for Tucson.” Several members of the Task Force shared their thoughts with the audience last night.

Harry George, venture capitalist and chairman of the Task Force, said that Tucson’s growth will no longer be driven by immigration. “We have to grow our own companies,” said George. “Not just any companies, but rapidly-growing, knowledge-based companies.” George mentioned Burr-Brown and Ventana Medical Systems, both started in Tucson garages, as extraordinary examples of what is possible in Tucson.

Tucson attorney Larry Hecker noted that as our nation’s wage divide grows greater, “this report gives us the blueprint” to build an economy based on knowledge and teach people the skills needed for success.

Sherry Hoskinson, director of the UofA’s top-ranked McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, spoke about a need for Tucson to convey a message to the world about what type of community it is. “We need to get that startup swagger. We need to live it and breathe it.”

Startup Tucson founder Justin Williams spoke about his vision for helping to build the local start-up scene, including bringing people of different backgrounds together to help Tucson companies solve the challenges they face.

Pick up a copy of the latest edition of Biz Tucson magazine to read the group’s full report. Biz Tucson is available at Safeway, Basha’s, Barnes & Noble, and AJ’s Fine Foods.

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